At an early age, all children have the capacity and propensity to observe, explore, and discover the world around them (NRC 2012). These are basic abilities for science learning that can and should be encouraged and supported among children in the earliest years of their lives. The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) affirms that learning science and engineering practices in the early years can foster children’s curiosity and enjoyment in exploring the world around them and lay the foundation for a progression of science learning in K–12 settings and throughout their entire lives.
This statement focuses primarily on children from age 3 through preschool. NSTA recognizes, however, the importance of exploratory play and other forms of active engagement for younger children from birth to age 3 as they come to explore and understand the world around them. This document complements NSTA’s position statement on elementary school science (NSTA 2002) that focuses on science learning from kindergarten until students enter middle or junior high.
Current research indicates that young children have the capacity for constructing conceptual learning and the ability to use the practices of reasoning and inquiry (NRC 2007, 2012). Many adults, including educators, tend to underestimate children’s capacity to learn science core ideas and practices in the early years and fail
to provide the opportunities and experiences for them to foster science skills and build conceptual understanding (NRC 2007, p. vii). Also underestimated is the length of time that young children are able to focus on science explorations. Effective science investigations can deeply engage young children for extended periods of time, beyond a single activity or session.
NSTA supports the learning of science among young children that will create a seamless transition for learning in elementary school.
You can read the complete statement here: